Asia News: Rugby World Cup, Shangyin Opera House, Tait


Rugby CUpStu Forster/Getty ImagesRugby CUpFans interact with players during a game between Russia and Samoa at the 2019 Rugby Cup at Kumagaya Rugy Stadium in Kumagaya, Saitama, Japan.

Rugby World Cup Rakes It In

The Times of London has reported that tickets for England’s semi-final match against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup were going for 7,600 pounds ($9,800), or about five times the price before England beat Australia in the quarter-finals. On top of that, flights to Japan, where the RWC is being played, are almost fully booked.

Which is to say that the RWC 2019 has been successful beyond its organizers’ dreams. According to the Nikkei newspaper, 99 percent of all tickets to all games at the tournament have been sold, despite the fact that a huge typhoon caused the cancellation of three games during the weekend of October 12-13, the first time games have been cancelled at the tournament since it was started in 1987. 

In addition, the very strong showing of the host country’s team, the Brave Blossoms, who went all the way to the quarter-finals, have boosted the sport’s profile immeasurably in Japan. For years there has been talk about launching a professional rugby league in Japan, and finally that dream will likely become a reality.

So far, more than 1.8 million tickets have been sold of the 1.82 that were available. There were 37 matches during the pool stage of the tournament attracting a total audience of more than 1.28 million. The Japan-Scotland game garnered the largest attendance: 67,666. The last time the tournament was held, in England in 2015, total ticket sales were 2.5 million owing to the larger capacity stadiums. 

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More to the point, the amount of money that foreign visitors who came for the games spent in Japan has been enormous. Rugby fans have, on average, spent twice as much as the usual Asian tourists, which make up the vast bulk of visitors to Japan, the main reason being that many rugby fans stayed for the whole month of the tournament. 

The Japanese fans have spent a lot, too. Ahead of Japan’s quarter final match with South Africa, almost all 200,000 Brave Blossoms jerseys put on sale had sold out.

New Shanghai Opera House Opens

Shanghai celebrated the opening of its newest stage venue, the Shangyin Opera House, on Sept. 15 with a staging of an original opera by He Luting, who was the director of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music until his death in 1999. The conservatory manages the new opera house.

According to China.org, the opening performance featured students and young scholars attending the conservatory as a means of testing the new facility’s acoustics. 

The opera house was designed by Christian de Portzamparc, an award-winning French architect. The building consists of eight stories and a U-shaped main theater that seats 1,200 and comprises four levels. It also has four rehearsal halls, a lecture hall and stage-altering devices that can provide for two productions to be staged simultaneously. 

The soundproofing technology is said to be state-of-the-art and the entire building is positioned on a “spring isolator” to eliminate vibrations caused by a subway line that runs nearby. Consequently, the conservatory has dubbed it “the first floating opera house in China.”

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In addition, the acoustic qualities can be adjusted depending on the type of performance taking place, be it a symphony, a theater piece, chamber music or folk music. Touch screen displays are installed on seat backs so that audiences can access subtitles in a variety of languages depending on the production. 

The conservatory told Asia Times that it plans to invite foreign opera companies to perform at the new venue, in addition to original productions staged by the conservatory. 

The ultimate purpose of the new facility is to bring opera and classical music to a wider public in Shanghai, so that the city can fulfill its self-proclaimed role as China’s “city of opera” and “the performing art center of Asia,” according to China.org. 

As a means of bolstering that legacy, the first opera company the conservatory invited was Teatro Alla Scala, which opened the 21st China Shanghai International Arts Festival on Oct. 19 with a production of Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera.” 

During its time in Shanghai, the Italians also put on their production of “The Magic Flute.” It was the first time La Scala every performed in China.

However, the company’s artistic director, Alexander Pereira, has been to Shanghai “more than 20 times,” according to Xinhua news agency. “In Shanghai, more and more audiences have great knowledge of opera, and I admire them,” he told Xinhua, which pointed out that while tickets to the operas were sold out, the revenue was not enough to cover the illustrious opera company’s expenses. 

The president of the Shanghai International Arts Festival said, “This is the first time for the world’s best opera house to come to Shanghai. The quality of the performances is also unprecedented.”

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In addition to the floating opera house, Shanghai plans to build another opera house by 2023 located on the Haungpu River on the former site of the 2010 World Expo. 

Tait Announces Hong Kong Office

Tait, one of the world’s leading stage and live event design and construction companies, announced on October 21 that it is expanding into Asia with the opening of an office in Hong Kong based on years of increased demand and growing commitments in the region. 

In a press release, the company said that “with new leadership and local staff, the team will optimize client needs by delivering premium, high-performance machinery and automation solutions for permanent and temporary installations while also providing mechanical and electrical engineering service and support.”

The leader of the new team is Kevin Taylor, who has worked for Tait in both the US and the UK. Taylor’s goal will be to “align Japan, China and all Asian operations while continuing to set the standard for excellence in customer service and client relations.” 

During his time with the company, Taylor has built up a substantial client portfolio, including Disney and Cirque du Soleil.





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